The summer semester is coming to an end and with it, another group of students is saying goodbye to the University of Haifa and Israel. Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting some students of Cohort VI as they share their best experiences from the Weiss-Livnat program and the exciting new adventures they are starting next!
Margarita Pedchenko is from Moscow, Russia. She received her BA in Jewish Studies from Moscow State University. Before joining the Weiss-Livnat Program she participated in The One-Year Jewish Studies Program at The European Institute for Jewish Studies in Paideia, Sweden (2016-2017).
Which of the courses you took this year was your favorite?
“Undoubtedly for me, the course Literature of the Shoah, with Dr. Miryam Sivan since I specialize in literary studies. It was great in terms of the contents and at the same time was effectively structured, keeping a good balance between reading the material, analyzing it through writing and discussing it in the group. Most importantly, it was not boring at all – and it is hard to compose an academic course that would be equally engaging for everyone.”
A favorite experience you had in Israel?
“The most unexpected outcome was being introduced to a grand-nephew of one of my favorite writers – Ilya Ilf. Before that, I didn’t know that his descendant lives in Israel. Another remarkable experience was learning about the existence of Miss Holocaust Beauty Pageant and talking to the participants.”
Will you be participating in any of our upcoming international internships?
“I have been accepted as an intern to the Jewish Museum in Budapest, so I am going there quite soon. I am also planning to write a thesis on Holocaust representation in the Israeli graphic novels and to continue on the academic path. Will see where it leads!”
What was your favorite course you took during your year in the Weiss-Livnat Program?
“My favorite class was The Final Solution to the Jewish Question: The Nazi Policy of Extermination. I took it in the first semester and the Professor, Dr. David Silberklang, was amazing. He combined the topic with contemporary research questions and was able to create an awesome atmosphere in the class that contributed to the great discussions we had. I wrote my first seminar paper in his class and he was very supportive and helpful. I used a lot of source material and he helped me to combine them to create one paper.”
Tell us one of your best Israel experiences.
“It is nearly impossible to choose one favorite experience from the last year. I would say it was every moment I spent with the new friends I found. We sat together with people from the program and the International School very often. It was always very nice and the discussions were most interesting. In the context of the program, the week-long seminar at Yad Vashem would be perfect to summarize as the best experience – we spent a lot of time studying but were also together in the evenings to relax and discuss.”
What are your plans now that the program has ended?
“I just arrived back in Germany and moved together with my girlfriend in Münster. The first step will be to finish the final exam for the program degree. I want to complete it by the end of September. After that, I plan to write a Ph.D. and I already have a topic and a supervisor. During the year I had an internship with the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem. I created a finding aid for the exact sources which I want to use for my Ph.D. and I was given permission to continue my work with the sources back in Germany. My subject will be about the “Centralverein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens” (Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith) and the connection to other Jewish organizations. The next months will be important for me to clarify my plans and ideas for my Ph.D-thesis. Simultaneously, I am applying for jobs at different universities and am confident that I will find a good position.”